The essential to-do list for your Dubai short break

Imagine you had just 48 hours in Dubai. How would you spend them? For the many travellers who stop over in the UAE on their way to far-off corners of the globe – be it North America or Southeast Asia – the reality means squeezing as many activities as possible into a limited time-frame between arrival and departure.

If you have a stopover lined up, it’s important to maximise your time by choosing your hotel carefully. You want to be close to all the sights that you plan to see, but also not too far from Dubai International Airport.

Downtown Dubai is a good base for your travels that ticks both of these boxes. It’s home to many of Dubai’s most famous, unmissable sights, including The Dubai Mall, home to some of the best shopping, dining and entertainment in the UAE.

You also can’t leave without seeing the magnificent Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building and both a star and feat of Mission Impossible. A trip to At The Top, Burj Khalifa’s observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors, offers an unmissable bird’s eye view of the city. You could even book a table to At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa, the restaurant on the 122nd floor, for a gourmet meal with unforgettable views.

Planning to spend the evening in Downtown Dubai? Be sure to factor in The Dubai Fountain show. It’s the world’s largest choreographed fountain show, a spectacle of music, water and light that takes place every half an hour from 6pm to 11pm. You could line up with the crowds outside The Dubai Mall to see it, but visitors in the know book dinner on the terrace at one of the surrounding restaurants with prime viewing spots. Try Thai restaurant Thiptara or Argentinian steakhouse Asado, both located at Palace Downtown.

There are hotels in Downtown Dubai to suit every taste and budget. For a luxury stay, I would recommend booking in to either Address Dubai Mall or Address Boulevard. Both boast enviable locations in Downtown Dubai, and bring premium luxury service to your stay, from its rooms and suites, to its restaurants and luxury spa. Manzil Downtown and Vida Downtown are just a short walk from The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa, and offer a different sort of upscale style. Plus, it’s home to some excellent restaurants, including French favourite La Serre and Asian sensation Toko Dubai.

For travellers on a tighter budget, check out Rove Hotels for trendy, affordable accommodation. These hotels are based in some prime locations, including Rove Downtown and Rove Trade Centre. They’re perfect if you’re stopping over for a business stay, as they’re aimed at modern, tech-savvy guests, with free Wi-Fi in every room to keep you connected, and cool social spaces where you can set up any impromptu meetings.

You could also venture beyond Downtown Dubai to nearby Business Bay to see of the city’s newest attractions at the Dubai Canal. The impressive new landmark is a 3.2-kilometre waterway that flows through the heart of the city, linking Dubai Creek to the Arabian Gulf. There are paths for walking and cycling beside the waters, and the pedestrian bridges offer beautiful views of the city skyline.

Perhaps you’ve been to Dubai before and already checked off the sights of Downtown Dubai, or maybe you just want to head off the beaten track and away from the crowds. If that’s the case, why not try something a little bit different and stay in the historic part of town? Old Dubai, as it’s often called, is home to the lively neighbourhoods Deira and Bur Dubai, separated by the Dubai Creek. This is where the city as we know it grew from.

Rove City Centre is a good base from which to explore traditional sights of Dubai. Wander among the iconic windtowers and courtyards of Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood, take an abra ride across the creek, and browse the stalls of the traditional souks. They’re the best place to pick up an authentic keepsake of your trip, from local spices to pottery and textiles.

Wherever you do decide to stay, it’s always best to book your hotel in advance. For any Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts, or Rove Hotels property, you’ll get the best rates if you book online directly on, or Planning ahead will save money and give you the peace of mind to enjoy your stay.

George T. is a Dubai resident and an avid traveller 

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